The art of nude
’The English language, with its elaborate generosity, distinguishes between the naked and the nude. To be naked is to be deprived of our clothes, and the word implies some of the embarrassment most of us feel in that condition. The word “nude,” on the other hand, carries, in educated usage, no uncomfortable overtone. The vague image it projects into the mind is not of a huddled and defenseless body, but of a balanced, prosperous, and confident body: the body re-formed.’
Kenneth Clark, The Nude: a study in ideal form (1956)
Since its beginnings, art history has been showing the naked human body. It has, for a long time, represented an allegory or personification of beauty, health or fertility. Modern painters bring a new understanding of the perceived naked body – instead of the ’allegorical excuse’ they put the nude in the context of our reality. The realistic portrait of the naked body was found shocking by the bourgeois and the nude obscene. Édouard Manet’s ’The Luncheon on the Grass’ shocked the Parisian public to the extent that the painting was removed from the Salon and its exhibiting forbidden.
With the invention of photography, the nude became even more assertive. Thanks to the relatively simple multiplication and easy distribution, photography has become a popular technique and the nude – one of its most common motifs. Nude photography looks for the artistic value in our body – the lines, colors and intimate atmosphere that nudity creates.
Santiago Rueda gives us female nudes which reveal more than nakedness itself – the hidden connections of artistic value. He uses the lighting arrangements to create the play of light, shadow, and the motions his models perform. We see through his eyes how light can redefine the body surface. He also conveys the expressive power of the image not only by the model’s face but by her whole body through dynamic motion.
Santiago Rueda articulates his art by photographing both bare nudes and semi-dressed models. The artist’s affinity towards fashion is revealed through nude photos which include fashion pieces. By bringing fashion into nude art, he deepens and broadens the understanding that fashion, nudity, and art are closely related.
The advantage of studio photography lies in the fact that all the elements are set beforehand to obtain the perfect shot. His models are women who feel good in their own skin – real women whose bodies are not playing into the hands of the fashion industry or the conformist aesthetic. The collaboration of the artist and the model is always agreed upon and carefully planned ahead. Santiago Rueda is an artist who encourages his models to freely express themselves – they adopt poses they feel the most comfortable with, and the perfect shot – showing the aesthetic and technical skill of the artist – occurs.
Combining the elements, the light, motion, and fashion within nude photography, the artist is exploring the possibility of crossing the boundaries of nude art, making that cross-disciplinary collaboration – an effectual artwork.